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How to Fit Hockey Skates

Skates are arguably the most important piece of hockey equipment to ensure you are able to perform your best – and that’s coming from stick guys!  You wear them every time you touch the ice and a good pair of skates can last the average player years (as long as your feet are done growing).  A properly fitting pair of skates can make all the difference in the game of hockey, and the last thing you want to do is drop upwards of $1000 on a pair of top end skates only for them to hurt your feet every time you go for a skate.  With this in mind, we have compiled a little guide with some tips and tricks to ensure that you get the best possible fit on your skates.

How to Fit Skates
As a starting point, most people’s ideal fitting skate will be 1-2 sizes smaller than their shoe size (probably closer to 3 sizes for women), but this is just a guideline rather than a firm rule.  Before trying on any skates, make sure that they are properly laced so you can get a feel for them tied up the same way you would tie them in a game.  Before you put your foot in the skate, the laces should be loosened down to the bottom and they should not be through the top three eyelets of the skates.

Once the skate is on your foot, stand up with the laces still untied.  At this point, your big toe should just be grazing the edge of the toe cap (how much depends on if you like a tighter or looser fit).  If you sit back down and kick your heel back as far as it can go, your toe should be separated from the toe cap and be able to wiggle freely without touching the boot of the skate.

Tighten the first couple of eyelets so they are snug but not overly so.  On the last three or four eyelets, however, make sure they are pulled nice and tight (young players may need help with this).  This will pull your foot back in the skate and lock your heel in place, which is a must in a well fitting pair of skates.  At this point the fit should be very similar to how it was when you kicked back your heel earlier and is a good representation of how it will feel on the ice. 

Before removing the skate, make sure you unlace at least the top three eyelets again.  If you have to yank the skate off rather than easily sliding it off, it will affect the fit of the skate and you want them to mould as closely to your foot as possible.  Note that the skates will break in over time with use.  This will generally cause them to feel a bit more spacious, especially as the stiffer portions of the skate begin to soften up.

For many players, the width of the skate will be just as important as the length.  Typically, skates will have a width ranging from C (Narrow) to EE (Extra Wide).  You can see a chart detailing the most commonly available widths below. Most commonly these widths will be listed with the size (i.e. 9EE), and if there is no width listed it is safe to assume it is standard width (D).                                                                     

 

Narrow

Standard

Wide

Extra Wide

Code

C

D

E

EE

Width Ratio

>2.8

~2.6

~2.5

<2.5

 The correct width for you is generally determined by the width ratio of your foot (length of your foot divided by width), though this is an imperfect science and comfort is far more important than adhering to these calculations.  More information on how to accurately measure your foot can be found below.

Buying Online
Buying skates without trying them on can be tricky, but as long as you know what you’re looking for it is very doable.  If you have owned skates before, the fit of those is a good benchmark to start off of, and you can adjust size/width as necessary based on how the previous pair fit.  It is always important to do your research on specific models, as not all skates will fit the same profile.  For instance, the 2020 CCM Catalogue does a great job of pointing out some of the differences in fit between the three lines they run.

For first time buyers, you can order relative to your shoe size, but it may be easiest just to get a proper measurement of your foot.  To do this, place a piece of paper on the ground against the wall.  Standing barefoot on the paper with it and your heel tight to the wall, mark off where your big toe reaches to at the furthest point.  Repeat this with your other foot.  You can use these marks to get a measurement of the length of your foot (in centimetres ideally).  If they are significantly different measurements, you may want to look into getting skates where the left and right boot are different sizes, but for most people they will be similar and you can just go with the larger measurement of the two.  Using this number, you will be able to find manufacturer recommended lengths for each skate size, like on the chart below that Bauer created for use with their skates.

Length in CM

28.9

28.5

28.1

27.7

27.2

26.8

26.4

26

25.5

25.1

24.9

24.7

24.3

Recommended Skate Size

10.5

10

9.5

9

8.5

8

7.5

7

6.5

6

5.5

5

4.5

Other Considerations
It is important to note that though these are the guidelines we suggest for fitting a skate, no one can decide the perfect fit but you.  What is comfortable for one player may be completely different for someone else, so it will always come down to preference.  If you are still growing and want to get a pair of skates with a little bit of room, this is fine, but anything more than half a size bigger is probably not advisable if you are looking to perform at your best right away.

Once you’re comfortable with the fit, take the time to check out what kind of accessory features you’d like on your skates.  Pro stock skates are custom made to a player’s specifications, and often have unique features that you won’t find on retail skates.  One of the changes that we most often see is custom tongues, which usually altered to be more padded, because 100+ miles per hour slapshots hurt when they hit you.  Another thing to consider is the holder length for the steel.  Usually it is pretty consistently related to the size of the boot, but some players prefer a shorter or longer blade and will have their skates built accordingly.  Sometimes we even see skates where one boot is half a size larger than the other in order to best suit the player.  For those of you with feet that are tough to find skates the right size for, buying pro stock is a great option to get a custom set without breaking the bank ordering direct from manufacturer.


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